Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

138                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

Rilke's conception of development to divine perfection is centri-
fugal or pure humanity, that of George is centripetal or deification
of the ego. The meaning of Der Teppich des *Lebens is, apparently,
that the world consists of chaos and form, and that form is created
by life from chaos; but the law is that what is formed by life must
perish. However, in all this alternation of creation and decay one
form of creation, and one only, resists the eternal process of dis-
solution - what the mind creates, particularly what the mind of
the poet creates; and therefore art is the sublimation of life. And
since the artist creates his own world he too is related to creation
as God is to His universe; he is, therefore, God, and as such to be
adored. Once again the volume is monumentally architectural and
in triple form: whether because (as in the sonnet) two pillars are
needed to support a roof, or because (as in the Trinity) the arch
of the spirit (der Geisf) must span the two pillars of creator and
created, or because Dante's Divine Comedy (to George the supreme
revelation of art) is tripartite, is a problem which may be posed
and looked at. One commentator1 even points out that the three
sections are dominated respectively by Verb (movement in time),
Noun (fixed position in space), and Adjective (hovering above
time and space); or in other words by Sense, Measure, Sound. In
the face of George's insistent symmetry one is tempted to ask:
can inspiration be mathematical ? If one were to say that ecstasy
does not create in polygons Stefan George's Circle might answer
that God, as the spirit contriving beauty, does so create; to which
the answer should be that Stefan George is an intellectual deviser
of symmetrical forms but that perfect symmetry does not prove
him to be an inspired poet. In sum, it is the old antithesis of mind
and imagination; and, though both are good, even in poetry, the
result might be that George sometimes awakens Geist but not

In Das Vorspul) the first part of Der Teppich des Lebens, a naked
angel appears to the poet and announces that Life Beautiful (das
schone leben) has sent him as envoy. This has an air of medieval alle-
gory; but it is philosophy - Life is here conceived as, according to
Gundolf, the triad of forces interpreted in Dasjahr der Seek: nature,
fate, and soul; which, as a unity, are given the name of spirit (der
Geisf); and the spirit which is the law, the meaning, and the shape
of this life appears to the poet in corporeal form as the angel. The

1 Walters., p. 199.